1 Volume 6 Number 3 October, 2010 An Interactive Journal Sponsored by International Association of Educators (INASED)
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3 3 International Journal of Progressive Education Editor: Mustafa Yunus Eryaman Associate Editor: Chen Xinren Assistant Managing Editors: Eryca Rochelle Neville Nihat Kahveci Alex Jean-Charles Mustafa Koc He Ning Editorial Board: Bertram Chip Bruce Peggy Placier Yang Changyong Sharon Tettegah Fernando Galindo Susan Matoba Adler Carol Gilles Julie Matthews Nezahat Guclu Cushla Kapitzke Catalina Ulrich Rauf Yildiz Juny Montoya Winston Jumba Akala Kwok Keung HO Sara Salloum Mustafa Ulusoy Pragasit Sitthitikul Serkan Toy Catherine D Hunter Ismail Sahin Bongani Bantwini Cemalettin Ayas Mehmet Acikalin Luisa Rosu Caglar Yildiz Sheila L. Macrine Tuncay Saritas Hakan Dedeoglu Ihsan Seyit Ertem Youngyung Min Raul Alberto Mora Velez Van-Anthoney Hall Chan Raymond M.C. Pauline Sameshima Martina Riedler Canakkale Onsekiz Mart University, Turkey Nanjing University, China University of Missouri-Columbia, USA University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA Isparta Suleyman Demirel University, Turkey Nanjing University, China University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA University of Missouri-Columbia, USA Southwest China Normal University China University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA Universidad Mayor de San Simón, Bolivia University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA University of Missouri-Columbia, USA University of the Sunshine Coast, Australia Gazi University, Turkey University of Queensland, Australia Universitatea din Bucuresti, Romania Yildiz Technical University, Turkey Universidad de Los Andes, Bogotá, Colombia Catholic University of Eastern Africa, Kenya Hong Kong Institute of Education, Hong Kong University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA Gazi University, Turkey Walailak University, Thailand Iowa State University,USA University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA Selcuk University, Turkey University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA Sinop University, Turkey Istanbul University, Turkey University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA Montclair State University, USA Iowa State University,USA Hacettepe University, Turkey University of Florida, USA University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA Hong Kong Baptist University Washington State University, USA University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA
4 4 Erdal Toprakci Advisory Board Lu Youquan Ma Hemin Chrispen Matsika Wei Liu Jeylan Woliye Hussein Zorhasni Zainal Abiddin Cumhuriyet University, Turkey East China Normal University, China East China Normal University, China Georgia College & State University University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA Almeya University, Ethiopia University Pudra Malasia The views expressed in this publication are not necessarily those of the Editor or the Editorial Review Board, nor the officers of the International Association of Educators (INASED). Copyright, 2006, International Association of Educators (INASED). ISSN
5 5 TABLE OF CONTENTS Volume 6, Number 3 October 2010 Articles 6 Majority Teachers Perceptions of Urban Adolescents and Their Abilities: Probes from Self-Reflection and Teacher Autobiographies Authors: Immaculee Harushimana 26 A Participatory Action Research Study of Nature Education in Nature: Towards Community-based Eco-pedagogy Authors: Mustafa Yunus Eryaman, Sukran Yalcin Ozdilek, Emel Okur, Zeynep Cetinkaya, Selcuk Uygun 38 Geography Teachers Usage of the Internet for Education Purposes Authors: Adem Sezer 51 Identifying students learning style preferences regarding some variables in an EFL classroom Authors: Cevdet Yilmaz & Salih Zeki Genc
6 6 Majority Teachers Perceptions of Urban Adolescents and Their Abilities: Probes from Self-Reflection and Teacher Autobiographies Immaculée Harushimana* Lehman College, CUNY Abstract This article presents a small scale, qualitative study of nine majority alternate-route teachers and the perceptions they hold about themselves as urban educators and their urban students academic abilities. Data for this study was collected through selfreflective, written interviews and meta-reflective responses to two published teacher autobiographies. Culture shock theory was used to understand the evolution of the participants perceptions through the responses they provided. The study s findings revealed that the participants underwent positive changes in their perceptions of themselves as urban educators and of their urban students academic abilities. Implications highlight the value of using published teacher autobiographies in urban teacher education. Keywords: alternate-route teachers, autobiography, in-service teachers, majority teachers, pre-service teachers, urban adolescents, teacher perception, teacher education * Immaculée Harushimana is assistant professor of Middle and High School Education at Lehman College, CUNY
7 7 Introduction Education, recruitment, and retention of multiculturally-aware educators have been, and continue to be, a major preoccupation of multicultural education advocates in the US (Goodwin, 2002; Ladson-Billings, 1999; Sleeter, 2001). The unabated criticism made about teacher education programs is that they do not attract pre-service teachers of color and do little to prepare teaching candidates from the dominant white ethnic majority to work effectively with urban student populations (Goodwin, 2002). Given the persistent teacher shortage in urban schools, the need to recruit and train teacher candidates who understand the needs of urban adolescents and can relate to them is significant (Ladson-Billings, 2000; Sleeter, 2001). This study seeks to achieve an understanding of the changing perceptions of nine majority 1 alternate-route certification teachers in regard to urban students literacy abilities, through to biographic interviews and their meta-reflective responses to two published teacher autobiographies. As a case study of nine educators, the findings of the study are not intended to be generalized at a larger scale. However, the study can serve as a preliminary basis for a more comprehensive research on the use of self-reflections and teacher autobiographies to promote culturally responsive teaching. Teacher educators may benefit from the study s implications, which focus on the role of teacher autobiographies in the shaping of majority teachers self-perceptions as educators of urban adolescents and of the opinions they form about their students abilities. The Problem Presently, the severe teacher attrition in urban schools has pushed teacher recruitment efforts beyond state borders, populating urban schools and teacher education programs with novice teachers who often come from remote states in rural America. These new recruits, many of whom are career changers, are placed in high needs urban schools while pursuing a Master s in Teaching degree through alternative-route-to-certification programs (i.e., programs that permit candidates who already hold bachelor's degrees to become teachers without the burden of having to finish a traditional education program) (Ng, 2003). In some instances, little consideration is given to the fact that these recruits may have been immersed in a Eurocentric system of education (Ramsey, 2004) and, therefore, may lack essential understandings of and sensitivities about culturally- and racially-different individuals (Sleeter, 1994), who might most likely populate their classrooms. The racial/cultural contrast between the student and the teacher populations in urban schools leads to the need for teacher education programs to rethink their curricula so deeply ingrained in a Eurocentric tradition (Goodwin, 2002) through emphasis on liberal arts and academic content. While content knowledge plays a key role in a teacher s success, the mutual teacher-student relationship is also indispensable. The cultural mismatch between urban students cultures and 1 In this study s context, the term majority teacher conveys the same meaning as Parker and Hood (1995) gave to majority faculty in their study of minority students and majority faculty and administrators in teacher education. Throughout this study, the term refers to teachers of white Caucasian ethnicity. Occasionally, however, the term white is used especially in verbatim quotes or paraphrases to respect the original author s thought and intent.
8 8 majority, pre- and in-service teachers cultures and beliefs has a significant impact on the educational outcomes for minority students of color (Sleeter, 2001). Studies of pre- and in-service teachers changing perceptions (like this one) of urban schools may, therefore, contribute important insights into the teaching and learning climate, on the one hand, and the prediction and prevention of teacher attrition in urban public schools, on the other. The extent to which new teachers perceptions change for the better or the worse may be a predictor of whether they will or will not stay in the new position. This study constitutes a modest contribution to the emerging scholarship on the state of alternate route certification programs in urban education, by focusing on majority pre- and in-service teachers changing perceptions of themselves as urban educators and of the academic abilities of their urban students. Historically, pre-service teacher education programs are known for recruiting primarily young, white, middle-class females, far removed from the reality of the urban students they may be called to teach (Goodwin, 2002; Sleeter, 2001). In most cases, these majority in-service teachers (as they are called in this study) of urban students end up quitting before they reach five years in the profession (Tettegah, 2006), mostly due to lack of preparation as to how to work with urban student populations. To address this problem, different solutions have been proposed, including the introduction of multicultural education courses, the socialization of preservice teachers in urban school settings, and the implementation of alternative route teacher certification programs (Haberman & Post, 1998; Neuman, 1994, Ng, 2003). Alternative-route certification candidates constitute the main focus of this study, due to their increasing presence in urban schools as well as the fact that the majority of the recruits come from the dominant majority society. Alternative-route teaching certification candidates (i.e., many of whom are also career changers) face a double challenge: firstly as people who did not undergo traditional teacher education; and secondly, as people who are transitioning into the teaching profession from other career paths. According to some researchers speculations, teachers entering the profession through alternative route certification programs may leave in even greater numbers than their regularly certified counterparts due to less preparation for dealing with demands and realities of the public schools, less formal training in teaching prior to entering the classroom and a greater likelihood of being placed in teaching situations that are more difficult (Croasmun et al., 1997, n.p.). That is not to contradict research that says that there are alternate-route certification teachers who last longer, beyond the two-year teaching commitment in high needs urban schools (Kane, 2006). Efforts to close teacher attrition through alternative teacher recruitment need the concurrence of educational researchers in identifying new teacher recruits perceptions of their experience and the role that such perceptions play in their decision to either persevere or quit. Background Studies and Theoretical Underpinnings More recently, studies that have focused on pre-service teachers perceptions of urban students have reported mixed results. Some studies have observed positive changes in the candidates perceptions of teaching in urban schools as a result of doing fieldwork in culturally-diverse schools (Conaway et al., 2007; Groulx, 2001; Ladson-Billings, 1994; Mason, 1999). Other studies, on the contrary, have found out that the teachers initial attitudes, biases, and perceptions of
9 9 ethnically-different students were reinforced rather than reconstructed as a result of multicultural awareness (Haberman & Post, 1992; Smith & Smith, 2007; Spooner- Layne et al., 2007). Culture Shock Although racial identity development theory has served as the major framework for understanding teachers attitudes and beliefs about students from a different race and culture than their own (Carter & Goodwin, 1994; Cross et al., 1991; Tatum, 1992), other theories may be needed to help understand how these attitudes change across time and space. Some educational researchers have used the culture shock theory as a framework for understanding new teachers changing perceptions of self, urban school culture, and urban students personalities (Kron & Faber, 1973; McClean, 2006; Spooner-Lane et al., 2007). In many respects, alternative-teacher certification candidates are likely to undergo culture shock, like any person who enters a new culture for the first time. In racially diverse settings, racial biases and social prejudices may play a catalytic role in teachers culture shock progression, especially when they are dealing with students from a different background than their own (Kron & Faber, 1973). According to Kalervo Oberg (1960), culture shock is solved in four phases: the honeymoon phase (also known as Euphoria), the rejection phase (also known as the crisis stage), the regression phase (known as early recovery, in positive cases), and the (full) recovery phase, which is achieved when affected individuals begin to recognize and interpret subtle social cues, adapt, and eventually become bicultural as they accept and appreciate the unique qualities of a new culture (McClean, 2006, n.p.). Majority teachers may be said to have achieved this stage once they outgrow their negative perceptions and learn to see the positive side of urban students: Assumptions A review of multicultural education research on teacher education provides important information on in-service and pre-service majority teachers beliefs concerning educating urban children, especially minority students of color. The following assumptions reflect researchers inferences about some of the dispositions that these teachers hold towards themselves and the students. Pre-service majority student teachers are fairly naïve and have stereotypical beliefs about urban children, such as believing that urban children bring attitudes that interfere with education (Sleeter, 2001, p. 95); Majority pre- and in-service educators may perceive themselves as having led a fairly privileged life, with a father who worked and a mother who stayed home and took care of the children (Ramsey, 2004); Many majority pre-service and in-service teachers are ambivalent about their ability to teach African-American children (Sleeter, 2001); Some majority pre- and in-service teachers claim to have grown up in households where education was valued and parents supported involvement in extra-curricular activities ranging from sports to music (Ramsey, 2004);
10 10 Many teachers joining the profession, in addition to being predominantly majority, female, monolingual, and middle class, exhibit parochial attitudes and articulate a preference for teaching children like themselves in environments with which they are familiar (Goodwin, 2002); and Majority teachers often deny racial issues and differences all together, or they cast all of their students of color as immigrants (Ng, 2003). What transpires in the above assertions is the likelihood that majority teacher candidates come from a different racial and cultural background than most urban students. As a result, multicultural education advocates believe that it is critical for these teachers to become sensitized to the cultural experiences of urban youth, which influence their approach to literacy and learning. Delpit (1987) argues that minority people of color are likely to hold non-monolithic perceptions of education, as their social position is determined by the racial, political, and historical contexts in which they live. The Study A small-scale qualitative study was conducted on nine in-service and preservice teaching fellows purposefully selected (see below for details) from a cohort of twenty teaching fellows who were enrolled in an education course in summer Interviews and reader-response prompts to teacher autobiographies were used to investigate the perceptions that the majority teacher candidates both in- and preservice being trained to work in urban secondary schools have of urban students and their academic abilities. Given the small sample of participants and the qualitative nature of the study, the findings are by no means intended to be generalized on all majority alternate-route certification candidates. Rather, the study makes a modest contribution to the critical debate concerning the recruitment, training and retention of teachers in high need urban school settings. Research questions The study focuses on four major questions seeking to understand the evolution of majority pre-service and in-service teacher candidates newly recruited to serve urban adolescents: 1. What prior knowledge shapes majority pre-service and in-service teacher candidates perceptions of urban students and their abilities? 2. How do in-service and pre-service majority teachers respond to the educational and teaching experiences of reflective urban educators from various ethnic backgrounds? 3. How receptive are in-service and pre-service majority teachers to the teaching philosophies that experienced teachers from across cultures have constructed for understanding and engaging urban youths? 4. To what extent do in-service and pre-service majority teachers recognize the importance of the use of autobiography as a tool to identify their own inherent biases?
11 11 Participants In accordance with the qualitative paradigm guidelines, the participants were purposefully selected for this study; purposeful sampling selects information-rich cases for in-depth study (Patton, 1990). Criterion sampling (i.e. based on researcherset criteria and restricted only to cases that meet the criteria) was applied to a cohort of alternative-route teacher certification candidates enrolled in a graduate teacher education program at a graduate urban institution in summer Consistent with the aim of the study, participant selection was limited to individuals who described themselves as members of the majority social group and alternative-route certification candidates, who were either undergoing pre-teaching training or were in their first year of teaching at an urban middle or high school. Of the 10 participants who met the above criteria, nine participants comprised of 4 men and 5 women completed the study. In age, the men ranged from early 30 s to mid 50 s, whereas the women ranged from mid 20 s to late 50 s. Biographic data also indicated that all the nine-participants were native citizens of the United States and grew up either in rural towns, in the Mid-West, or in the suburbs of New York State. In terms of career history, the data indicated that the participants came from various professions, including: beauty/cosmetics, staff recruiting agency, freelance news writing, dancing/choreography, music, accounting, and private tutoring. One participant indicated that she came straight from college, whereas another specified that she had held no real job before. Design Study Design and Methodology In conformity with naturalistic inquiry guidelines (Lincoln & Guba, 1986) and qualitative research methods (Denzin & Lincoln, 2000; Okely & Callaway, 1992; Van Manen, 1990), this study examines: 1. participants biographic interviews, and 2. their responses to two published teacher autobiographies, to gain an understanding of perceptions that pre-service and in-service majority teachers perceptions have of urban students as well as of themselves as urban educators. Special attention is paid to the evolution of the teachers perceptions of students literacy abilities and the influence that these perceptions have on teachers setting of expectations for their students. While the use of autobiography as a research method in urban teacher education contexts is not as expanded (Ladson-Billings, 2000), its role in reflective pedagogy cannot be denied. The use of autobiography in teacher education has attracted the attention of a few educational scholars, like Burdell & Swadener (1999); Florio-Ruane & detar (2001); and Schmidt (1999). Autobiographic testimonies of urban teachers are needed to enhance teacher training, recruitment, and retention of faculty in urban schools (Ng, 2003; Steinberg et al., 2004). Exploring the lives of racially diverse teachers through reading and examining memoirs and autobiographies [may] generate discussions about complex, multi-layered topics (Calvillo, 2003, p. 51) that pertain to education, such as the connection between poverty, race, intelligence, and school performance. The choice of the two autobiographies used in this study was consistent with
12 12 the multicultural focus of this study in more than one way. First, the selected selfnarratives represented points of view of both a majority educator and a minority educator of color. Second, the narratives reflected the teachers experiences working with culturally-diverse student populations. To this end, Autobiography of a Teacher (Ramsey, 2004), one of the two autobiographic texts selected for this study is a reflective autobiography of a majority teacher, Sarah Ramsey, and her commitment to educating herself about cultural diversity. The other text, Leroy Lovelace, is a firstperson autobiographic interview account of Leroy Lovelace, a minority educator, and his experience teaching in two racially and socio-economically different educational settings. Lovelace s story was published in Michele Foster (1997). In her autobiography, Sarah Ramsey describes her journey of transformation from the rural, privileged life of a white girl living in a two-parent household, to her pre- and in-service teaching experience in multicultural school settings, where, on two separate occasions, she was a victim of a crime. The author credits these two incidents with being the reason why she decided to research and get more educated about multicultural issues in her doctoral work. Like Ramsey, Leroy Lovelace, who is African American, relates his journey of transformation in his understanding of race and schooling. Lovelace s self-discovery journey started early when he attended private institutions both at the high school and college levels. Upon graduation, he became a teacher at Wendell Phillips High School in downtown Chicago, and later was selected to teach talented children in the Maine Summer Humanities Program. Lovelace recounts how the Maine experience helped him appreciate his work with urban students at Phillips, where he is known for his caring, demanding classroom style [which] has helped keep countless kids in school and pushed many further than they thought they could ever go (Monroe, 1992, n.p.). Data collection and analysis The data for this study was collected qualitatively through semi-structured written interviews and meta-reflective narratives. Preliminary interviews focused on the participants classroom experiences, as teachers, and were conducted prior to the reading of autobiographies. Semi-structured, written interviews were completed by the participants both before and after reading the selected teacher autobiographies. For comparison purposes, exit interviews were conducted in the form of reader responses to the autobiographies at the end of the course. During the preliminary interviews, the participants were asked to share their: 1) expectations of urban youths literacy abilities prior to becoming teachers; 2) impressions of urban youths literacy abilities during their early days in the classroom, as pre-service (PSTp 2 ) or in-service teacher (ISTp); and 3) assessment of urban youth s literacy abilities after the first two marking periods, which extended over 91 days. Participating teachers meta-reflective narratives (i.e., reflections on selfreflective narratives) provided data on the impact that reading and reflecting on the 2 To preserve participants anonymity, the acronyms ISTp and PSTp will be used throughout the study analysis to represent In-Service Teacher participant (ISTp) and Pre-Service Teacher participant (PSTp)
13 13 two targeted teachers autobiographies had had on their perceptions of their students academic abilities. The participants were invited to take part in a reader-response task, in which they were asked to read and respond to the two autobiographical narratives described earlier. Five response prompts were provided; they focused on: the reader s opinion about the author's account of his/her educational and literacy experiences; the educational insights gained from reading the selected autobiography; the participants response to the author's interpretation of urban students' literacy abilities; their opinion of the author s understanding of the culture and lifestyle of urban minorities of color; and their personal assessment of the impact that reading these teacher autobiographies had on their self-perceptions as a teachers of urban youth. Analysis The data analysis followed qualitative research guidelines (Wolcott, 2001). Written interviews were analyzed separately from the meta-reflective narrative responses. After fitting the topics into the appropriate categories, the data inside each category was sorted out and assigned into subcategories. A close analysis of participants prior and current expectations of students literacy abilities helped to identify recurring patterns in their changing perceptions. Through pattern coding and thematic analysis of meta-reflective responses to the autobiographies, there emerged key areas that majority teachers need to adjust in order to understand urban students. Findings The participants responses to the above prompts demonstrated an evolution, comparable to the culture shock trajectory, in the majority teachers perceptions of their educator role as well as of the literacy abilities of urban students of color. The ecstatic feelings of landing a new/full time job were soon replaced by a crisis a shock -- caused by a disappointing classroom reality. To manage the crisis, the teachers at first regressed to their own experiences to understand the situation at hand. Gradually, through guided reflections on the new experience, the participants showed signs of recovery from the shock slowly transitioning to an understanding of the students aptitudes and attitudes towards learning. Euphoria The biographic data reflected a level of early excitement and anticipation Euphoria from the participants. As career changers, they looked forward to a positive departure from their previous occupations, as beauticians, recruiting agents, freelance writers, performing artists, accountants, musicians, private tutors, etc. Perhaps they saw teaching as a remedy to what was going wrong with the jobs they had chosen to leave behind. Apparently, however, this honeymoon stage was shortlived. The first contact with the students put them in a state of shock and dismay. The Crisis The participants biographic testimonies reveal feelings of loss and disbelief regarding the students attitudes and abilities upon first interaction with them. At this
14 14 stage, which can be likened to the crisis stage of culture shock, in-service teacher participants reported feelings of frustration with the students, and they blamed different entities the system, the community, the students, or themselves -- for the situation. Examples of early commentaries follow: ISTp1: They [urban students] have limited mastery of the English language and no sophisticated way of expressing their feelings[...]. They see the skills that I attempt to teach them as hurdles that I place before them, and [...] they knock them aside without regard for the intrinsic value in the knowledge that I am trying to givethem; ISTP 3: My students don t feel as though school is really important. They know the game. They show up, do below the bare minimum, fail at least one of their classes, pull off a 2 on the state test and voila, they re in the next grade. And the New York City Board of Education accepts that. That is what terrifies me. And sometimes I m not sure how to deal with these students who seem to lack all motivation. This, too, terrifies me; ISTp3: Many of my students use inappropriate language and behavior in the classroom or in a public setting, and are often unaware or uncaring of this. It s an issue that I am very sensitive to [...]; and ISTp4: [...] a lot of them didn t have the self esteem to even try. It took me almost the entire year to realize that this was the reason they were failing. They considered themselves failures before they even began. Perhaps, an important catalyst of the above commentaries is the influence of the teachers own beliefs, which are rooted into a deep cultural discontinuity between non-urban majority teachers and urban minority students lives, class, and race, as some of them remarked. When asked to comment on students abilities, more than half of the participants expressed a state of disbelief through the use such emotional qualifiers as appalled, shocked, or surprised to express their indignation at the students extremely low-literacy performance. Some found the range of abilities among students surprising, while others were appalled by the lack of appropriate reading materials for the students levels. Examples of early commentaries include: ISTp1: ISTp3: I was shocked at how violently students were opposed to literacy; I was surprised at the range of ability. Many performed even farther below than I imagined; ISTP 4: I was still surprised at how my seventh graders struggled with reading. Some read well, but many did not even know the basics of grammar; ISTp7: Initially I was appalled by the number of children s books stocked in the libraries of my school s classrooms; and